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Gioia's Deli wins James Beard America's Classic award

"Only five are given out a year, and it's a nationwide award," Gioia's Deli owner Alex Donley said. "It's a big deal, it's like winning an Oscar if I was a movie."

A classic deli on The Hill known for its hot salami sandwich earned national recognition Wednesday.

Gioia's Deli, located on the 1900 block of Macklind Avenue, was awarded the America's Classics award from the James Beard Foundation. A press release from the foundation said the award is awarded to restaurants that "have timeless appeal and are cherished for quality food that reflects the character of their community."

Owner Alex Donley likened the award to winning a more well-known honor.

"Only five are given out a year, and it's a nationwide award," Donley said. "It's a big deal, it's like winning an Oscar if I was a movie."

Gioia's joins Bertha's Kitchen in South Carolina, La Taqueria in San Fransisco, Sahadi's in Brooklyn and Schultz's Crab House in Essex, Maryland, as this year's winners.

Donley said the award is a testament to the restaurant's longevity.

"What makes Gioia's so special is the fact that we have been around for 100 years," he said. "We are uniquely St. Louis and we serve a sandwich called the hot salami sandwich — which is a St. Louis institution — that we've been making for 100 years. Charlie Gioia opened this deli in 1918 and the door never closed."

The Hill location is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday. They also have a Downtown location on Pine street open from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.